With most sporting activities on hold during the pandemic, Gilles Gaudreault, Procurement Business Partner for Rio Tinto, was looking for a new source of motivation to keep his passion for running alive. This is when the idea of running 47 half-marathons for his 47th birthday came to mind. Combining passion and generosity, this personal challenge ended up benefitting the community as he was able to raise $8,947 for United Way.
An initiative that snowballed
“I decided to take on this challenge quite humbly, because I consider myself more of an amateur runner than an athlete per se,” Gilles said. “I didn’t think that this initiative would have so many positive effects. The people around me were drawn to my idea, which, to my great surprise, snowballed.”
Mutual aid and sharing are values that are dear to Gilles, and for many years he has been giving back through his involvement with community organisations.
He added, “I am grateful for what life has given me, and I am fortunate because my three children are healthy—but not everyone is so lucky, and no one knows what challenges life may have in store for us down the road. Supporting United Way made perfect sense to me because it helps so many people in the community and supports 94 regional organisations that focus on different issues. It’s my way of giving back and making a difference—in this case, one kilometre at a time.”
Although his initial goal was to raise $1,000, that amount quickly rose because of the enthusiasm that this very special project inspired. On 25 September, Gilles ran the last miles of the 47 half-marathons. Participants who joined him on this final stretch could then run three loops of 3.5, 8, or 9.6 kilometres. In the end, he completed this physical challenge for a great cause surrounded by his family and friends.
Gilles is used to working behind the scenes and making the causes he supports shine through his actions. Nevertheless, we wished to highlight the altruism that guided and motivated his every step in this challenge, which in the end will help more than 68,000 people in the region through United Way.